Rickie Fowler feels he is ready to challenge for a maiden major title after storming to the top of the leaderboard during the opening round of the US Open.
Fowler took advantage of the warm and calm morning conditions to post a course record seven-under 65 at Erin Hills, putting the American two strokes clear of the rest of the field.
The 2014 runner-up birdied three of his opening five holes and tapped in for another at the par-five 18th to reach the turn in 32.
Back-to-back birdies from the first moved Fowler into the outright lead, before guiding home a 10-footer at the seventh to double his advantage on a blemish-free card.
“The first thing is getting off to a good start Thursday, keeping that rolling and getting ourselves in contention [for] Sunday,” Fowler said. “There’s a lot of golf to be played, but I’m ready to be out there.
“Having a win this year at Honda, being in contention at majors in the past, and having the Players win has definitely done a lot for me.
“It’s going to be a fun week and I like the way this course suits my game. It is always cool to be part of some sort of history in golf. But I’d rather be remembered for something that’s done on Sunday.”
Ryder Cup team-mate Brooks Koepka is one of Fowler’s closest challengers on five under, with Patrick Reed a further stroke back after mixing six birdies with two bogeys.
“I felt like I should have been a couple of shots (better) here and there,” Reed said. “But any time you take 68 on the first round of a major, no matter what major it is, how easy or how hard the course is, it’s good.
“This morning there was really not that much rain, so you could go out and get a score early and that’s kind of what a lot of scores did. If the wind blows, it’s going to be challenging no matter where they put the tees.”
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